Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Could Eat Salsa Forever...Forever Ever? Issue #95

It's strange to think that up until last week I had never left the country. Yes, Canada is a different land but I'm talking about the experience of getting off the plane and realizing that you're not in Kansas anymore...well, or Shoreline. Planned for the past year, last week the Wifey and I spent 10 days in Mexico visiting her aunt in their new place post-retirement. Retirement indeed, the house is a castle and we were treated like special guests as she and her husband went out of their way to welcome us, show us around, and teach us about their newly adopted homeland (6 months out of the year).

Here's a few of the highlights...

It had been a while since I had gone on a nice long hike. Having spent most of my youth in the Boy Scouts (that's a whole other blog entry), I rarely find myself wanting to head out and hike for hours but was rewarded with a visit to the Nakapuli range. Kind of a desert-like rain forest seemingly out in the middle of nowhere, Nakapuli is kind of a go-to hike destination for tourists and locals alike. We're talking about cut your arm off with a pocket-knife to get free stuff here people. The hike wasn't easy, and many times we found ourselves having to make our own trails as we would in-and-out of boulder formations and making sure we didn't find sure-footing on a scorpion or worse. Still, if getting stung by a scorpion gave me superpowers it would be totally worth it...

The small side markets of Mexico were really interesting to me due to the fact that few seemed very busy except for a those that our hosts informed us were "trusted by the Americans". Made sense, get a good rep of no food poisoning and word of mouth will spread. Almost everyday we would go to "Tony's Market" which was literally a back of a truck filled with vegetables, fruits, nuts, and coolers stacked full with meats and dairy products. This is where I embarrassingly made myself proud by using my extremely elementary Spanish to communicate with the locals who probably thought I was mentally disabled.

On one of our final nights in Mexico, our hosts hired a local woman and her assistant to cater a 17-person party with some of the best Mexican food I've ever had. The salsa soared with fragrant cilantro, the guacamole was just soft enough, and the chimichangas were literally the best I've had the pleasure of devouring. On top of the wonderful local-flavored meal, a local guitarist came to perform at the dinner. His name was Ramon, and though he didn't speak much English, he and I communicated to each other what we could about our love of music. For two hours he played beautiful Spanish instrumental guitar arrangements and stamped his foot after the end of every song. He was literally beaming as he soaked in the applause with a wide screen grin that gave you a glimpse into exactly what he looked like as a little kid. Afterward, I told him I enjoyed his playing immensely and he simply said, "I like Rock N Roll". Nuff said.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and get a sense of what it was like there. I never thought I would go to Mexico but found it's scenery beautiful, it's food amazing, and at the same time felt very thankful I was born where I was. It in many ways seems to be a hard, hard life for many of it's citizens and I did develop a slight case of "class-guilt" during my stay. Be thankful for what you have, and that you even have anything at all. Hard to remember all the time, but I did get a reminder.

Let's talk about the cool stuff coming up this weekend! If you've been reading the past few months, you know that the KIRBY KRACKLE record is getting some good energy surrounding it and we hope to further that this weekend at the EMERALD CITY COMIC CON. Held at the Washington State Convention Center, KK will be performing as a special guest on Sunday, April 5th @ 12:30. As usual at these kinds of things, I'll be selling albums at the KK booth (with a certain little bro helping out) and the show will mark the first time we'll be selling the shirts. I'll have them for sale via my site/KK site soon as well.

Have a good weekend and if you're at the convention come by and say Hi!



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mexico! Issue #94

Hey all! Just a quick note to let everyone know I'm down in Mexico for the week for a big family vacation and have been since last Friday. Margaritas anyone? I don't have the time to do a big proper blog this week (honestly), but next week I'll be posting lots of pictures and talk about what I did. Now, time to cut up some limes and go read some comics while sipping on an ice cold PACIFICO.

Hate mail can be directed below. :)


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Frank The Pocket (Part 2). Issue #93

How great is it that the readers of my blog expecting to read about the musical journey tolerate entire posts about a make-believe pocket? Good thing you all do...cause here's another one!

Last week I wrote about Frank, my cartoon/comic idea and the bizarre way in which he came to be. This week I wanted to show a couple of sketches that artist Laurie B. and I fleshed out (her drawing/me talking) of Frank and his friends that make up his world...on the my hoody.

First, Frank. Laurie initially drew up this sketch of him with an attitude. After we finished laughing our asses off, we realized that this didn't really speak to who Frank was. Frank has a heart of gold, but was always sad that nothing would fit in him? Um, too sad. What about a heart of gold combined with an enduring and charming naivete that leads him to always see the best in people even when it's obvious to everyone else when something or someone isn't a good idea? We have a winner! Laurie had me guffawing multiple nights for hours at Mel's Diner in S.F. while she drew this stuff up. I love it. A few pictures of Frank in Japan, hot-tubbing and trying out for the "Tropic Thunder" role that went to Robert Downey Jr.

Like every little pocket person in the world, Frank needs a girlfriend. A rock that he can turn to when times are tough, and someone that believes in him even when he doubts himself. Frank found that in his Japanese girlfriend, Yokoko. That's her name due to the fact that most zippers have a "YKK" on them (made in Japanese zipper factory Yoshida-Kogyu-Kaisha) and Laurie suggested it. That girl is brilliant. Always bailing Frank out of trouble and helping him in his adventures, Yokoko is the partner we all would like.

Rounding out the cast of characters in this hoody-based world is Francoise, Frank's cousin and a big French prick. I don't know why he's French so don't ask. All I know is that he lives on the other side of the hoody from where Frank is based, and for some reason that place is France. You can get the idea how long it takes to get to the other side of this garment. Anyways, Francoise is a companion of necessity since he's the only family member Frank has. Always trying to sabotage Frank, make him look bad, and ruin his relationship; Frank is naive to Francoise's intentions despite Yokoko's repeated warnings.

"He's the only family I have", says Frank. "He isn't as bad as he comes across."

Oh, yes. Yes he is.

In 3rd place on the swimmer's award block (I'm assuming you got that, speedos and all), is Frank's button friend. For now, let's just call him Gordon. Gordon like Yokoko is dedicated to Frank's success, but almost in a severe "Bromance" kinda way. He's not gay, but just loves Frank so much he sometimes comes across occasionally creepy in his admiration. We're still working on this, but would like some kinda subplot of the extra-curricular activities he might be into when Frank is out of town in Japan visiting Yokoko's family. You do the math on what that might be...

So there you go, and thanks for taking a look into Frank The Pocket's world! I was crying with laughter as Laurie drew up the sketches with her vision of Frank and I truly think he wasn't meant to be drawn by anyone else. Um, what next? Well, I think it would be super fun to do a small book, sketchbook, or comic to sell at these convention shows but that might be a little ways away. Hopefully we can flesh out the idea more over the next couple of Cons this spring promoting KIRBY KRACKLE, and I look forward to that very much. :)

Thanks to everyone who came out the show at the KISS CAFE last Saturday and took in the set! I tried to mix it up and did a few different interpretations of songs off of my solo record, Songs From The Orange Room, as well as an R.E.M. tune and a selection from CROWDED HOUSE.

This next week I'll be in Mexico for a big family trip and will be posting from there! No border towns though, I plan on keeping my head. Also, if any drug cartel members are planning on adding to me to their current huge kidnapping numbers take note: If you're going to take me, that's cool, but give me a chance to grab my retainer first. I spent too long in braces for you guys to mess that stuff up. Thanks.

See you next week!


Monday, March 9, 2009

Frank The Pocket. Issue #92

Let's talk about a pocket. This is a safe zone right? Ok, good (whew).

About a year ago, I had purchased a hoody at Nordstrom Rack in Seattle that has since become my go-to garment of choice in colder whether. It's made by a company called TRIPLE 5 SOUL based in NYC and sadly probably no doubt made by hands too young and too underpaid to do such work (consumer guilt purged). It is gray, has elbow pads, and has a tendency to smell like mildew if not sufficiently dried all the way when taken of the dryer. Like in any relationship, you learn each others tendencies over time.

The other day, wifey was making me a toasted cheese sandwich when after I noticed I was getting hot, I unzipped my hoody to find a small pocket lining the inside that I had never seen before. I laughed at it's tininess and pointed it out to her.

"What do you think this is for?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said. "It's to small to hold anything, I almost feel sorry for it."

It was easy to feel sorry for it. The unpretentious pocket looked measly when compared to it's overbearing brothers on either side of it. This pocket was the underdog obviously, and we continued to eat and chuckled off and on about the randomness of this runty pocket I had failed to notice until now.

A couple of days later I asked her again.

"Seriously," I asked. "What is this for? This is so weird."

"Maybe it's for dreams," she said. "Maybe it's for dreams, hopes, rainbows, and tears. Oh, and secrets too. Definitely for secrets."

Sarcasm in the face of desperation was not what I was looking for. This pocket wasn't for anything, but if it was for anything she was probably right about secrets. Obsessiveness was kicking.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago (maybe it was lack of sleep or too many multivitamins) when I was daydreaming in the shower before flying out to San Francisco. I do a lot of thinking in the shower and that's where I've come up with what I feel have been my hookiest songs...to the dismay of our water bill. If the money coming in from what I dream up in there one day equals the money going out on a monthly basis, then I will be making that my office. Guests can pee outside.
Getting back on track here (sorry), I was standing in the shower thinking. I was thinking about the pocket randomly when I had what some might call (and I call those people the voices) a "Eureka" moment. How could I have not realized this before? The pocket's name was Frank.

Time elapsed in shower: 10 minutes.

Frank was smaller that any of the other pockets because when he was being stitched the sewing machine broke. On a schedule and needing to get production back on track, the shift manager decided that the hoody in question would just have a smaller pocket on the inside lining instead of a normal one.

Time elapsed in shower: 22 minutes.

How about we bring unresolved childhood issues into this one as well? Well ok, the other pockets picked on him because he was smaller than the rest. A kind of "Ruldolph" for the fashion industry set if you will. With a heart of gold like that, wouldn't there be a single soul who had Frank's back? Oh yeah, that would be his girlfriend, the zipper. More on that later...

Time in shower elapsed: 35 minutes.

I also started to think that if Frank was a cartoon character he would need to have a opening theme song, I mean, right? Nothing really much to think about, just tell it like it is. What was Frank's story? This is what I came up with...

(slowly building jazz-style ride cymbal tapping)

"Born in a sweat-shop in east Mumbai,
The sewing machine broke when he was just an inch-high.
so he stitched 'em up quick and sent him off to the mall.
That's where I found him hanging; bought him into my life,
now he's here right at my home with me, my dog, and my wife.

He's not much bigger than a baby's nose, he's FRANK...THE POCKET!"

Time elapsed in shower: 42 minutes.

In little under 45 minutes, my psychosis had taken me from modest pocket to full-fledged cartoon merchandise empire (I can't help it, I'm my step-fathers son).
Hoping that wasn't a too scary and moving on, I ran out of the shower embarrassingly excited to tell wifey about the potential regarding our strange little find.

"Guess what?" I asked. "You remember the pocket right?"

"Yeah, what about it?" she asked.

"Well, his name is Frank and I even wrote a jingle for him".

"NO." she stated. "That is too much. You're done."

Honestly I was far from it and couldn't wait to tell KK partner Jim and our traveling companions all about it at the risk of blank stares and friendly if reserved humoring.

"You're gonna bug the shit out of everyone this weekend aren't you?" she asked convinced it was fact.

"Hell Yeah."

Next week? Meet Frank via the artistic vision of Laurie B!

Also, I'll be playing this Saturday night, March 14th, at the KISS CAFE in Ballard. This will be of the solo-acoustic sort but not of the "staring at the ground playing slow songs for an hour" sort...you know how we roll. Patrick Porter will be opening at 8:00 with a rare acoustic set not to be missed, and I'm looking forward to giving some love to my solo material with a few Collider and KK tunes thrown in to spice it up. What? You like Cyndi Lauper too? This night might just be for you then...:)

Click this link to get your "Wu Name" and leave me a comment telling me what it is!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"I'd Love To Listen, But Will These Headphones Give Me Earwhigs?" Issue #91

Quick show news! I'll be returning to the KISS CAFE in Seattle next Saturday, March 14th, for an all-ages show. KISS CAFE has a great vibe, and though not large by any means has the biggest beer selection around (local beer snobs take note). My friend Patrick Porter of EXPLONE will be opening the evening at 8:00 pm and I'm assuming will be playing some new cuts from his forthcoming album. I'll be composing a set of solo, Collider, and a few Kirby Krackle cuts to compliment the microbrews flowing that evening. See you there.

Ok, on to the good stuff! This past week I was in San Francisco for WonderCon. For those of you who are (?), it's the West Coast equivalent to the convention I was in NYC for a few weeks ago. This was the 2nd stop on the KIRBY KRACKLE spring convention tour and though it was only a little over half as large as the last one, we sold many more albums. That felt pretty damn good, and especially that this time the internet buzz in comic circles helped us out by sending folks our way. As I posted a few weeks ago, more and more reviews and podcasts have been coming out supporting KK and Jim and I couldn't be more thankful. All day on your feet working the hustle makes it very worth it when there's good feedback. Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and we're enjoying riding the wave while it's here.

Taking what we learned as to what worked (and what didn't) from NYCC, we had 2 listening stations this time which made it much easier to manage table traffic and be able to share the music with many more people as a result. Some of the highlights each day for me came by way of sharing the music with little kids who can't believe there's a song about Mario Kart. Also, I think I finally got over the fact of feeling strange asking women I didn't know if they want to hear a song about playing Nintendo Wii naked. Creepy at first maybe, but once they understood what I was saying it usually ended in smiles.

As always, the best part of these kinds of gatherings isn't how much you sell (though I'd be lying if I said it wasn't important), but the cool people you meet and the stories you gather. There are many, many, many vendors at these conventions and I felt that at this one the gem came in the form of a woman named Wendy and her "I HEART GUTS" collection. Ever wonder where you could find a stuffed plushie of a Mammary Gland? What about a sticker set of the "best of" the reproductive organs? If that's what you're in the market for, this was the girl for you. All her products were creative, cute and I liked them so much in fact that I took the risk of getting the wifey her very own shirt with a cartoon Uterus on it. That's called love. Check out "I HEART GUTS" here!

When I was little, I dreamed for becoming a comic artist before I discovered that I enjoyed playing music. Given that, you can probably guess that there's a part of me that still holds onto a bit of that dream and thus in many ways being in KK is my way of involving myself in the comics industry the only way I could be. Still when you're 11 you don't think about sitting in a bar with some of your favorite writers while they try to outdo each other in grossness by telling the most horrific yet extremely creative flatulence stories you've ever heard. I could merely observe...

As for the city of San Francisco itself, I really couldn't tell you much! When you're in a convention hall from the moment you get up to darkness once you get outside it doesn't make for very much sightseeing. Unlike NYC, we didn't have much tourist time for sightseeing but had the opportunity to have some unique experiences the last day before we left for the airport. John Giang is a great artist, and a friend of a friend who works for ILM (Industrial Light and Magic), the company that is one of the largest and best special effects firms in the world. He worked on Iron Man as well as a few other projects since his tenure began. The facility flows with the energy of creative minds fueled by one of the swankiest cafeterias I have ever seen. I almost had a panic attack trying to choose between just the beverages. 100% Fresh squeezed Bartlett Pear Juice or Apple Limeade. Apple Limeade?!? I need to learn how to do special effects stat.

After ILM, we took the BART over to PIXAR which I assume needs no explanation as they've created some of the coolest stories in animation ever. The building itself is full of life-size props and character replicas from the movies and like ILM feels like a lot like the same creative energy that just thrives there. After signing my second non-disclosure agreement of the day (ok to talk about a little but no takey the pictures) we were taken upstairs to see the art proofs and concept storyboards for their new movie to be released this summer called UP. I was excited before the visit, but now really want to see this movie bad. I see how it could end up being my favorite Pixar release easily after seeing some of the depth and emotionality this film seems to be packing in the story. Awesome.

Glad to be home but like I Twittered this weekend, it always feels like leaving summer camp...minus the crying. I truly enjoy talking to the fans and getting new folks who I know will love these songs to just take the time to listen. Headphones on the head + smiles = me so happy.

"Every moment of your life is infinitely creative and the universe is endlessly bountiful. Just put forth a clear enough request, and everything your heart desires must come to you."

-Shakti Gawain